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my first tumbler run since the lot o'tumbler days

2011-07-03 - 8:40 a.m.

all photos � 2011 by elaine radford
bloodstone and fancy jasper from india

So I've pulled over 100 tumbled stones from my first batch that I consider to be complete -- either because I like the polish or because I think that it would require unreasonable or perhaps impossible effort to improve them. I've probably got almost as many in the "needs to be hand polished bucket."

I have several large flat pedestal or card protector Bloodstone/Fancy Jaspers that still need more polishing. However, I did get a nice shine on the smaller ones. They did get 12 hours of burnishing and 36 hours in the polish stage before the lid went all blooey -- sufficient to put a nice shine on many of them.

I had a variety of Brazilian Agates in the mix. One of my favorite stones was the Brazilian Agate disc, which has a wonderful "shadowing" pattern. Unfortunately, my camera is giving me grief, and I wasn't able to get a real good picture of it. This one, backlit, is astounding. I need to figure out a way to hang it so that it catches the sun.

The "round" one, if we can call it round, is the remains of a marble-making experiment gone horribly wrong. It did take a nice shine, though, and I was able to clean all of the polish "goo" out of the tiny crystal vug, by using a soak in white vinegar and water as suggested by someone on the RTH board.

Before I realized that I've really, truly, got to stop collecting rough, I swapped for some Savannah River Agate (chert) and some Utan Pigeon Blood Agate. We haven't had time to prep this rough, but I shaped one test stone of each material on the rough grinding wheel and dropped it in the mix. Both took a great polish, although the photo doesn't do justice to the Savannah River material. You get only a hint of the mysterious orange and purple flavor.

I re-shaped some of my better slabettes from the "Snuffy" assortment and dropped them into the mix. The soft orange and the painterly mustard yellow Jasp-Agates came out particularly well. When I'm set up to drill, I'll drill these for accent pendants.

Another remarkable material is the stuff I've dubbed "Snow Scene." I will have to find out what it's really called, as it's another material that's worthy of becoming jewelry.

Petrified Palmwood! I thought it was one of the state gems of Louisiana, but apparently, the oyster shell is, in a stunning political move worthy of Mike "I Was Governor For 8 Years And All I Did Was Make It Legal For Dumb-Bunnies To Motorbike Without Helmets" Foster. Bobby Jindal, you are a credit to your mentor, even if you're an embarrassment to the rest of us. State fossil or whatever, these Petrified Palms are, I think, probably all Texas material, again courtesy of "Snuffy." When I get enough, I'll make a mosaic. Maybe even in the shape of the Fleur de Lis.

The Mexican Crazy Lace is a mix of my estate stuff and more "Snuffy" slabettes. Wonderful color here.

I would really like to photograph this last group of translucent Agates over the lightbox, but my camera is giving me fits, so I won't, at least not right now. Maybe later.

What I've learned from this first batch of tumbled stones:

  • Vibratory tumblers are just too noisy. It isn't just the Lot O'Tumbler and, in fact, others on the RTH board believe the Lot O is one of the quietest. Vibes are just too noisy for this small neighborhood of small close-together houses.
  • I had 6 pound barrels for sanding and polishing -- and 3 pound barrels for the rough grinding. It should be the reverse. It took FOREVER to collect enough material for the polishing stage.
  • In an ideal world, you would have perfectly smooth, unpitted material. In the real world, every time you turn off the tumbler, for whatever reason, clean the stones and keep them soaking in water and white vinegar until you can clean them with a toothbrush to keep the grit or polish "gunk" from settling in the pores and pits. It really works. Because, working at the speed of snail as I do, it will be 2014 before I've prepped a 6 pound barrel of completely pit-free, poreless stones!

Evening Note: A single Eurasian Collared Dove joins the feeder assemblage.

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